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Call for legal reforms & cultural shifts in safeguarding street dogs

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Call for legal reforms & cultural shifts in safeguarding street dogs

In recent times, despite the Supreme Courts stern warnings against acts of cruelty towards street dogs, it is disheartening to observe that such incidents persist unabated...

Call for legal reforms & cultural shifts in safeguarding street dogs


We Asked: Despite the Supreme Courts warning, acts of cruelty towards street dogs continue. Even when the animal lovers/activists/feeders have evidence of those who have unnecessarily injured the animal to derive perverse pleasure, the law does nothing! Hardly ever an FIR is lodged or anyone arrested. How do you think this mentality should be tackled and the safety of the poor souls ensured?

In a nation that prides itself on its cultural diversity and compassion, the rampant cruelty towards street dogs raises alarming questions about our moral compass. Despite stern warnings from the Supreme Court, acts of brutality against these innocent creatures persist, leaving animal lovers, activists, and compassionate citizens questioning the efficacy of our legal system in safeguarding the rights of our community animal friends. To address this grave issue, we must first understand the root of the problem – the 'mentality' that allows such cruelty to persist. Cruelty towards animals often stems from a lack of empathy, a disconnect between individuals and the living beings that share our spaces. This mentality is further exacerbated by a prevailing sense of impunity, as the perpetrators of these acts believe they can escape legal consequences. One crucial step in tackling this mentality is a comprehensive overhaul of our legal framework concerning animal welfare. The existing laws must be fortified to ensure swift and severe punishment for those found guilty of harming animals. The judiciary needs to send a clear message that animal cruelty will not be tolerated, and those who engage in such actions will face the full force of the law. This involves not only implementing stricter penalties but also ensuring that these penalties are consistently applied. Additionally, law enforcement agencies need to be sensitized and trained to handle cases of animal cruelty effectively. Specialized units within the police force, equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to investigate and prosecute such crimes, can significantly contribute to curbing these acts. By fostering a culture of accountability, we can begin to dismantle the 'mentality' that allows cruelty towards street dogs to persist with impunity. Public awareness and education also play a pivotal role in transforming societal attitudes towards animals. Schools, colleges, and communities should integrate humane education programs that emphasize empathy, compassion, and responsible coexistence with animals. These initiatives can instil a sense of responsibility from a young age, fostering a generation that understands and values the welfare of all living beings. In a society that aspires to be compassionate and just, the plight of street dogs should serve as a litmus test for our commitment to empathy and kindness. It is time to turn our collective outrage into concrete action, ensuring the safety and well-being of these innocent beings who share our world. The responsibility lies not only with the legal system but with each one of us who has the power to shape a society that cherishes the lives of all its inhabitants, human and animal alike.- Hiraj Laljani, Associate Manager of Media and Celebrity Projects, PETA India

Animal cruelty is something which has been happening since ages. Thousands to lakhs and crores of animals of different species are daily subjected to cruelty due to human need and greed. Right from habitat destruction of wildlife to over exploitation by breeding animals to slaughter, the dairy industry, poultry, working animals or be it pets or community/ stray animals, they are all going through cruelty in some or the other way. One of the most talked about issues in today's time is the cruelty happening towards community dogs which are also known as stray dogs. Community dogs are one of the most suffering animals in every part of the country, remote, rural, semi- rural, suburban and urban areas. It has been also observed in many cases that the making of a criminal starts from animal cruelty. It is quite unfortunate that the existing laws and enforcement machinery is not enough to address and control animal cruelty and the need of the hour is to have strict laws and more manpower specific to deal with animal cruelty matters. At the same time there are good judgments from the Apex Court in matters of animal cruelty which are setting benchmarks. But still in many cases it has been observed that the FIR is not registered and even after registering FIRs it is seen that the evidence is not collected in an appropriate way which further leads to complications in filing of the chargesheet and create loopholes which are used by the offenders to get them out of such situations. Therefore, it is also not like that there are absolutely no laws or its enforcement but when a cruelty case has to be addressed it has to be done by following all the laws, rules and protocols of the state and country. With advancement in technology, growing awareness and impact of social media it has been observed that more and more cases are being witnessed in the public domain and many are also being taken up by authorities. It is high time that we need to accept that humans and animals also share common spaces and they too have rights to live a normal life. Man, Animal conflict is always seen with an angle of the conflict that happens with man due to animals but conflict is also where animals suffer due to man. With the current ongoing scenario, it is very difficult and depressing to deal with these issues which can mentally exhaust any person working for the welfare or rights of the animals, however one must not give up and continue working towards the cause, However we should also understand that there are certain ways in which such issues have to be addressed and not just emotionally. Therefore, it is a request to the animal lover citizens to start volunteering with local NGOs or NGIs  working towards animal rights, equally participate with the Animal Welfare Board of India / State by applying for Community Animal Caretaker cards, Honorary Animal Welfare Officers and similar programmes by government and non-government organizations. -Adv Pawan Satyaprakash Sharma, Founder & President - RAWW (Resqink Association for Wildlife Welfare) & Honorary Wildlife Warden - Thane, Maharashtra Forest Department.

In recent years, the scenario has changed drastically. Especially in the larger cities and towns, awareness has increased manifold amongst the implementing agencies and acts of cruelty dues not go without justice. It is true that lodging of FIRs entails some amount of cajoling, but it is being done. The only way to bring any kind of change is education, education and more education. It is the same in animal welfare also. Every organisation must make it a mission to sensitise public constantly. Along with this we must pressurise the enactment agencies to take responsibility of their duties. This can be successfully done by tagging them on social media. Every welfare citizen should be made aware of the rights of animals and be given encouragement for every cruelty reported and action taken. Because there is so much awareness now, I can only talk about how to intensify the movement. 80% of cruelties are now reported. Action is also taken. It is a little less in the villages, but cruelty is also a little less in villages. Cruelty acts are an extension of stressful urban lives. -Shakuntala Majumdar, President, CPCA, Pune

The persistence of cruelty towards street animals, especially dogs, is disheartening. The fact that legal action isn't being taken against the perpetrators is a real problem. To tackle this, we need to spread the word about treating animals kindly and make sure people understand the legal consequences of cruelty. Educational campaigns that highlight the positive side of coexisting with street dogs may be helpful. The legal system needs to step up too. We should make sure the laws against animal cruelty are enforced properly, with quick consequences for those responsible. Simplifying the process of filing complaints and holding people accountable is a must. Teamwork is crucial here. Animal lovers, activists, and law enforcement need to collaborate better and faster. Our communities play a big role too. Encouraging people to report cruelty when they see it creates a shared responsibility. It's about building a community that cares for everyone, including our furry friends. In a nutshell, we need a plan that includes education, awareness, changes to the law, teamwork, and community involvement. By working together, we can create a society where street dogs are safe and cared for. This will not only ensure their well-being but also help in reducing fear and preventing aggressive behaviour towards people. - Dr Upma Chaturvedi, Professor, Awadh Girls Degree Collage, Lucknow

The persistent acts of cruelty towards street dogs, despite explicit warnings from the Supreme Court, reflect a distressing state of affairs that demands immediate attention and comprehensive reform. In the face of substantial evidence gathered by dedicated animal lovers, activists, and feeders, the apathy within the legal system remains glaring – a stark betrayal of justice and compassion. To confront this deeply ingrained ‘mentality’, a multifaceted strategy is essential. Firstly, educational initiatives should be robustly integrated into school curriculums, promoting empathy towards animals and fostering a sense of responsibility for their well-being. Simultaneously, community outreach programmes can engage local populations, creating a groundswell of awareness and advocacy for the rights of street dogs. Legal reforms are critical. Stricter penalties for acts of cruelty, aligned with the principles of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, must be implemented. The Wildlife Protection Act-1972 can serve as a model, showcasing the success of stringent legal provisions in safeguarding wildlife. This approach involves ensuring efficient reporting mechanisms, swift investigations, and legal repercussions for offenders. Moreover, the police force needs specialized training to handle cases of animal cruelty effectively. Community involvement is pivotal. Encouraging the formation of local animal welfare groups can create a network of vigilant citizens, equipped to report instances of cruelty promptly. Collaborations with NGOs and animal rights organizations can provide resources and expertise to strengthen these grassroots efforts. In the realm of public sentiment, a transformative shift is necessary. Media campaigns, documentaries, and social media can serve as powerful tools to shape public opinion, dispelling apathy and fostering a collective responsibility towards the protection of street dogs. Drawing parallels with success stories under the Wildlife Protection Act-1972 can amplify the urgency for change. In conclusion, a comprehensive strategy encompassing educational reform, legal restructuring, community engagement, and media advocacy is imperative. The recent examples under the Wildlife Protection Act-1972 demonstrate the effectiveness of stringent legal provisions, reinforcing the need for a similar approach to protect street dogs. Only through sustained, collective efforts can we dismantle the prevailing mentality and ensure the safety, well-being, and dignity of these vulnerable beings.- Ada Riyaz, Biodiversity Studies and Management

In recent times, despite the Supreme Court's stern warnings against acts of cruelty towards street dogs, it is disheartening to observe that such incidents persist unabated. The phenomenon raises serious concerns about the implementation and effectiveness of existing laws, as well as the prevailing societal mentality towards animal welfare. This persistence of cruelty, even in the face of evidence presented by dedicated animal lovers, activists, and feeders, underscores the urgent need for a multi-faceted approach to address the issue. One of the primary challenges lies in the inadequate enforcement of existing legislation. The failure to lodge First Information Reports (FIRs) and the lack of arrests in cases of animal cruelty demonstrate a gap in the legal system's responsiveness. To tackle this, there is a pressing need for enhanced collaboration between law enforcement agencies, animal welfare organizations, and concerned citizens. Workshops and training programmes for law enforcement personnel on identifying and handling cases of animal cruelty could be instrumental in fostering a more compassionate approach. Beyond legal measures, the root of the problem often lies in a societal mentality that tolerates or even condones such acts. Educational initiatives should be implemented to raise awareness about the emotional and physical needs of animals, particularly street dogs. This could be integrated into school curricula, community outreach programs, and public service campaigns. By instilling a sense of empathy and responsibility towards animals, society can play a crucial role in shifting the prevailing mindset. Furthermore, the establishment of dedicated helplines and online platforms for reporting incidents of cruelty can facilitate prompt responses. These platforms could serve as a bridge between concerned citizens, law enforcement, and animal welfare organizations, ensuring a streamlined and effective process for reporting, investigating, and addressing cases of animal abuse. In addition to legal and educational measures, community engagement is essential. Local communities can organize neighbourhood watch programmes or enlist the help of volunteers to monitor and protect street dogs. Establishing community-driven initiatives for the welfare of animals not only fosters a sense of responsibility but also creates a supportive environment for legal action against perpetrators. In conclusion, tackling the persisting cruelty towards street dogs requires a comprehensive strategy that combines legal reforms, education, and community involvement. By addressing the root causes and fostering a collective sense of responsibility, we can work towards ensuring the safety and well-being of these vulnerable beings, ultimately creating a society that values and protects all its inhabitants, both human and animal. A peaceful world for all. - Nandita Saigal, an animal lover dedicated to rescuing and rehoming animals

It is a matter of shame that we only consider human beings when it comes to cruelty. We forget that animals are also living creatures and we should not be cruel to them. As per Indian law, street dogs cannot be beaten, killed or driven away or displaced or dislocated, they can only be sterilized in the manner envisaged in the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001 enacted under the Indian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (A Central Act), vaccinated, and then returned to the same area. Section 428 and 429 provides severe punishment (up to 5 years imprisonment) to those resorting to dislocation, abduction, and acts of cruelty towards community animals or pets. I urge everyone who believes that God has blessed equal rights to all the creatures of the Earth to live happily in his kingdom, that he will show courage to raise his voice against any of such cruelty and abusive acts towards stray dogs if it happens around him. I am sure one such small act of courage can surely help  poor souls with their struggle to survive in this cruel world.- Manoj Kumar Chaturvedi, bank employee and animal activist

Topic of the month: Do you think a poorly managed stray dog sterilization (spaying/neutering) programme is responsible for the rising incidents of man-dog conflict? Neither the private agency given the charge nor the municipality is doing an honest job because, despite claims, one can see lactating mothers and starving litters everywhere! Can we also blame the heavy concentration of dogs in areas where they are regularly fed by dedicated ‘feeders’ for the same? You may send your views (either in Hindi or English) in 300 words or more to [email protected]. Please also attach a colour photo of yourself.

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